Everyone wants better conversions, right? Because as a crucial part of the profit equation, the better you convert the more cash you make.
But how does someone who isn’t a pro copywriter expect to increase their conversion rate without shelling out big bucks for an expert?
Please note these tips specifically pertain to digital products in the online marketing niche. While a lot of the principles hold for converting copy in general, the examples and resources will allude to online marketing.
Here are a few simple tips to help get you there (warning, there is some fun involved):
First, I highly recommend at least some background training or resources. Anything by Richard Lewis is amazing. Of course you can get some excellent free information by scouring the web as well. Do a search for “copywriting tips” and you’ll find some great free resources.
Second, watch TV. ESPECIALLY ads. Especially during prime time or during major sporting events. These are where the big money advertisers play, and they’ve spent a fortune on crafting compelling ads that trip all the wires. What are they doing to build their brand, increase response, get you interested?
Third, practice. Not on your own stuff until you feel you’re ready. This is the REAL fun part. Because practice is so important, let’s break it down into three key areas of copywriting: Sales Letter Copy, Email Copy, and Product Review Copy.
Part One: How To Get Better At Sales Letter Copy:
First, you know all those emails you get from marketers promoting digital products? Instead of deleting every one, open one or two a day and actually CLICK on the link so you can see the sales page of the product being promoted.
Then, go through that sales letter with a fine toothed comb. Do your best to rip it to shreds. Specifically look at:
=> The Headline: is it compelling and specific? Does it push a button? Most importantly, does it MAKE YOU WANT to continue reading? If not, don’t just say to yourself “this sucks”, instead, MAKE IT BETTER. This type of practice is essential to becoming a better copywriter. If you can convert a poor or mediocre headline into one that pops, you’ll be able to craft your own winning headlines any time you want.
=> The Pre and Post Headlines (if applicable): If a pre headline is used, does it flow naturally into the main headline? Highlight an “itch” to the prospect? Better still, does it “pre-qualify” viewers to only attract the attention of buyers needing this particular product? I’m a BIG fan of prequalifying in the pre-headline, pretty much segmenting the audience right from the start. Many sales letters aim to “cast a wide net” but by doing so, may attract a lot of people that really aren’t going to convert into buyers.
If a post headline is used, does it build on the message of the headline and flow naturally into the introduction of the copy? Again, knowing that these are the purposes of the pre and post headlines, your job now becomes to critique these and make improvements. This all goes into what is known as the “flow” of good sales copy, a concept we’ll get to in a bit.
=> The Sub Headlines in the copy itself: Are they compelling and specific? Do they state either a SPECIFIC RESULT the product delivers, or create another “itch” when you read them? Just as importantly, if all you read in the entire copy are the headlines and subheadlines, do you still get a good idea of what the product is all about?
=> The “copy story” itself. Is it specific, absolutely littered with pain points? Is there a nice dose of “authority” in there as well, making you feel the product creator is an authority in the area? Because effective sales letter copy loosely follows a formula of about 80% pain, with a hint of authority sprinkled in to round it out. Pain is one thing, but if a sales letter doesn’t lead the reader to trust the product creator, it won’t convert nearly as well as it could.
=> The “Bullets”: are these just product features, or a combination of features and benefits? Whereas some features should be mentioned, powerful bullets focus on how the product will benefit the end user. And this is where a lot of otherwise good copy falls flat, so pay special attention to these. How can you make them better?
=> The “Testimonials”: first, are there any? If so, do they speak to SPECIFIC RESULTS of the writer actually having used the product in question? Testimonials that merely speak to the credibility of the creator are okay, but pretty thin. They don’t provide nearly as much reassurance as those that speak to specific, positive results from someone using the product itself. Lastly, the credibility of the testimonial writer him/herself. A title, occupation or reputation should be included so the reader feels these are legitimate testimonials.
=> The “Risk Reversal”: again, if there is one. Is there a guarantee offered? In clear terms? What are the terms? Do you feel that the vendor “has your back” in case the product doesn’t deliver as claimed or it isn’t what you expected?
=> The Calls To Action: need to be clear and somewhat forceful. They should state beyond a shadow of a doubt what the reader should do next (like “hit the buy button now”). Wishy washy calls to action just don’t get the job done.
=> The Bonuses: if included, are they relevant to the product? Do you feel they add real value? Buyers today are a smart bunch, so 12 bonuses that look like rehashed PLR aren’t going to appeal nearly as much as 3 high value, product specific bonuses.
=> The PS: does this include yet another call to action (it should). Does it help remove any hesitancy in your decision to purchase? That’s the whole point of a solid P.S.
=> The Overall Flow of the Copy: This is huge. While 80% of readers will only skim the headlines, sub headlines and maybe bullets, truly interested prospects will read every word. There needs to be a very natural flow, with the above-mentioned pain triggers mentioned frequently alongside a dose of authority. Does the story flow from one sub headline to the next? Lead naturally into the bullets? Make you feel when you get to the call to action that this is an entirely natural transition?
This is the hardest part to master. So many sales letter writers work so hard at mastering the basic “elements” they never quite put enough thought into the flow. It’s harder to figure out, but a crucial part of leading people seamlessly into making a purchase decision.
If you’d like a visual version of all of the above elements, I’ve created a mock sales page that highlights all of the above features. It looks like a traditional sales page but points out in great detail each of these elements.
It even includes “buy buttons” which, when clicked, lead to a complimentary video training I’ve created to give you even more insight into how to create compelling copy. You can check out this “educational example” of a sales letter at the bottom of this article in the “resources” section.
If you’re looking for sources of sales copy that could stand a bit of improvement, I’d consider checking out the WSO section of the Warrior Forum. Keep in mind some of the copy there is truly excellent, but you’ll certainly find several examples of weaker copy that will give you all the practice you need.
Now, to find examples of some great sales copy, head on over to jvzoo[dot]com and check out the best selling products in the marketplace section. There’s a reason these products are best sellers. And truly engaging copy is one of the prime reasons. So by using a number of these as “benchmarks”, you’ll easily be able to see how to improve weaker versions in your quest to become a master copywriter!
One final note: there are, as with anything, exceptions to rules. Once in a while you’ll stumble across a version of a sales letter that is really “out there” but converts like wild fire. All one need do is check out a sales page by fellow honorary IM Rebel Lee Murray for numerous examples of this. Check out this latest example from Lee’s “It’s All You Need” training here.
Now Lee is an EXCEPTIONALLY talented writer, and known as quite a maverick in the IM industry. But he’s BETTER known for creating truly amazing products that deliver results and unlimited value, so his stuff converts. Not sure if Lee has ever studied copy or just flaunts the rules on purpose, but his style is 100% unique and incredibly effective. Wouldn’t recommend this approach to just anyone, but wanted to mention there are exceptions to these rules.
Part Two: How To Get Better At Email Copy
Wow, are there ever a crap load of courses on this controversial topic. But in my humble opinion, you won’t go too far wrong by looking into products by Lee Murray and anything related to the name “Goofball’s Guide To Email Marketing” (oh wait, those are my products, sorry about that)…
But I’m going to share with you some of my favourite tips here, and if you like them enough, then heck, you might want to investigate further.
Just as with sales copy, there are some great free resources online. You just have to look for them. Unfortunately, there’s just as much bad information as good, so you do need to be a bit more selective.
As for email marketing courses: there’s a lot of gold out there, but also a lot of junk. Look for specific results and solid testimonials before you spend a penny on them. If you already happen to be on the list of a product vendor that markets via email, you’ll have a good idea already if they’re any good. As a general rule of thumb, for every 10 marketers sending you emails, only 1 of them is any good at this stuff. But hey, you already know that, don’t you?
To REALLY get good at writing effective emails, you need to be willing to dissect a lot of the promotional emails you’re receiving daily. In case you’re not, here’s what you need to do immediately: Set up a secondary email account. Use this address to subscribe to as many free online marketing offers as possible. In no time flat this secondary account will be getting hammered with promotional emails on a daily basis. And that becomes the basis for our research! Doesn’t cost a dime either.
Special note: a LOT of these marketing emails will end up in your spam box. You need to be checking these out as well. There are a number of reasons emails go to spam and the rules change all the time. HOWEVER, language in the subject line especially and to a lesser extent the body of the email itself will trigger many spam filters.
These emails are EXCEPTIONAL learning tools so you can learn what language is causing these messages to get sent to spam. Look for common terms, phrases, punctuation like ALL CAPITALS (known spam trigger). Other culprits include the words “traffic”, “free”, as well as multiple exclamation marks.
Just as in practicing with sales copy, we’re going to do our best to shred to bits the emails we receive AND practice making them better. Good news here is there are a lot less moving parts in most emails than in long form sales copy. Let’s look at these elements:
#1 – The Subject Line: by FAR the most critical element of any email. The only true goal of a subject line is to get the receiver of the message to open up. But then we get into a bit of a gray area. “Blind” subject lines that have nothing to do with the message itself may get opened, but rarely acted upon. But whereas more specific subject lines may see a lower open rate, the sender often gets a higher click rate on links within the email. This goes to the same concept of “pre-qualifying” an audience as we witnessed in pre-headlines mentioned earlier. Personally I like a more specific subject line, but have tested both and love to change them up from time to time.
Your job? In that secondary email account you’ve set up, look for the subject lines that really compel you to open up, and make note of them. For all the rest that make you want to “auto delete”, see how you can improve them to make them more compelling.
#2 – The “Second” Subject Line: depending on the email client, a number of the opening words in an email message are viewable in the preview window before the receiver even opens up. These words are precious real estate. So senders that start off with an intro such as “Heya, So and So Here, How Are You Today” are wasting a lot of effort. Far better when the intro to an email states either a specific benefit or major pain problem you, as a reader, may be experiencing.
This is the next area to critique and make improvements on, because although not technically a subject line, this “viewable intro” is often the decision maker for a lot of people on whether or not to open the message.
#3 – The Body of the Email: there will be a huge variation in this, but the bottom line to you as a critic is if you feel the sender cares about helping you. Many marketers will fire out 4 line messages with 3 links telling you to “check this out immediately”. Many others will simply use, word for word, the email swipes the vendor created. Not much personalization there. Whereas short and punchy emails CAN be extremely effective, so can more personalized, unique messages that speak to your needs. So ask yourself if you feel like the sender has your interests at heart. If not, how could you change the body of the message to make it friendlier?
#4 – The Calls To Action: much as the subject line’s goal is to get the message opened, the call to action’s goal is to “get the click”. As important as the call to action is, the lead-in text to the CTA is as important as a pre-headline is to a headline. (Are we starting to see some similarities here? Hope so … all good copy is very closely related).
But the call to action itself needs to be compelling as all get-out. This is where POWER WORDS and phrases need be used freely, with a strong sense of urgency. The goal is to get the reader to want to FIND OUT MORE NOW! Urgent, get it?
If the calls to action don’t make you want to take action right away, why not? Your job is to improve them.
Very Important: a lot of email writers view “calls to action” as a completely stand alone element, but that’s simply not true. A well crafted email simply tells a much shorter story than a complete sales letter, building readers to the inevitable call to action. If you view email CTAs as stand-alone elements, do so at your peril. You’ll get much higher click rates in your emails if you relate to your reader from the very beginning and all the way through.
THAT’S what gets a solid click thru rate, not just the words in the CTA itself. So your job here is twofold: ensure that the email CTAs use power words that compel, but further that the entire message PRIOR to the CTA leads naturally to it. Improve where necessary, and you’ll be well on your way to crafting much more effective messages.
#5 – The Close: the signoff of an email should strongly reinforce in your mind that the sender has your best interests at heart. If not, the job hasn’t been done. Look at the emails you’re getting and ask yourself this question: “Does this person actually give a darn about me, or just want to make a commission”? If it’s the latter, FIX it.
#6 – The P.S.: not all emails employ a ps statement, and they’re absolutely not necessary. But just like a sales letter, they can be effective ways to drive home the point one more time and will most often include another link to give the reader a chance to get more details. BE SUPER CRITICAL WITH THESE. Do they relate to the main message of the email, while expressing a supreme sense of urgency? Because urgency is the job of the PS, nothing more.
There is SO much more to effective email marketing than the messages themselves. I harp a lot about this in my actual courses, so let’s give you a condensed version of some of the most important aspects…
First, build and continue to build trust with your audience. This comes from the moment someone subscribes to your list, for whatever reason. They should be getting a warm welcome from you with ACCESS to whatever product prompted them to join your list (free or paid). Even if that access link was supposed to have been given automatically. Glitches happen. Nothing reinforces TRUST more than the fact that you’ve taken the time to make sure your subscribers have access to the product they’ve been promised.
Second, just like in a sales letter, reinforce your authority. No need to brag here, but you’ve GOT TO get the point across that you’re the go to person in this niche. Experience, results, products released, whatever it is: state it in plain English.
Third, set an expectation. That your subscribers SHOULD expect to hear from you in future. With content (if you intend to send it), product updates (if you intend to send them) and DEFINITELY product recommendations that will help them build their business.
By the way, you SHOULD be sending pure content and free product updates once in a while, but that’s just one guy’s opinion…
Mentioning that you’ll be recommending products WILL earn you some unsubscribes, but who cares? These people never would have acted on your recommendations anyway, so no loss to you. Far better that you’re 100% transparent from day one with your new subscribers.
Fourth, sending frequency. This could be an entire course, but for the purposes of this article, here’s the key: CHANGE IT UP. This flies in the face of what some email courses teach but it just plain works. How many times do you get home after a day at work and see 4 messages from the same marketer? EACH and EVERY day. What do you do? I’ll bet you hit delete more times than not.
How about the marketer you hear from on a less frequent, unpredictable schedule? Maybe 4 emails one week, then just 1 the next? Then nothing, then BAM emails 5 days in a row. Know what happens when you change up your frequency? Your subscribers get CURIOUS as to what it is you have to share and are FAR MORE LIKELY to open up and read your message.
I swear I stay on some lists just for education. I know I’m going to get an email from “marketer A” at 9am, again at 1pm, then again at 4pm, EVERY DAY. How freaking predictable is that? This type of frequency usually ties in closely with “marketer A” promoting a different product every single day, with not much concern as to whether or not it will help me out or not. Disgusting. Hilarious. Neat combination. Amazing learning opportunity.
Phew. Rant over. Change it up. Be the unpredictable email marketer and watch your open and engagement rates soar, as your unsubscribe rate drops to almost zero. Serious.
Part Three: How To Get Better At Product Reviews (Blogs and Review Sites)
This is BY FAR the hardest type of copy to create. Funny thing? Most people with review sites and blogs spend the LEAST amount of time on this.
Note I said “most”. There are a few exceptional bloggers and product reviewers that get this right and devote a massive amount of energy into crafting great copy.
How would I know writing copy for review sites is tough? Well, I ghost write the copy for one of the more successful online marketers. This stuff is HARD. Unlike a sales letter or even email, you have very few precious words in which to get your point across.
If you’re really serious about becoming a better copywriter and boosting YOUR conversions, this is the area to focus on. This is the deep end of the pool kiddos and it’s literally sink or swim. Master the art of “short copy” and the rest becomes child’s play.
Benefits, calls to action, and even “the story” have to get distilled right down. The headline has to be slick as anything. By FAR the hardest copywriting job I have, but so incredibly fulfilling.
The good news here is that this IS learnable. You just have to make sure you’re checking out, on a regular basis, digital product review sites and blogs. And cut them to shreds. In particular, investigate:
#1 – The Headline: Does it compel you to read further? Is it specific? Does it prequalify potential prospects? If not, how can YOU make it better?
#2 – The Review Copy: Does it provide an OBJECTIVE review of the product, including both pros AND cons? Does it clearly state benefits to the prospect? And of course, does it lead naturally into the call to action, almost forcing the reader to want to take action? If
any of these elements don’t tick the boxes, there’s room for improvement. Meaning, you’ve got a job to do and it’ll make you a way better copywriter.
#3 – The Call To Action: in no other version of copy is the CTA more important than in the short copy used in product review sites and blogs. The language has to be incredibly “punchy” yet still relate highly to the review copy itself. As most of these posts are quite short, there’s usually only one CTA. It’s got to do the business. When you find one that doesn’t make you want to take action, your job is to find a way to make it better. And remember, this has as much to do with the “lead in” text as it does with the power words you choose for the CTA itself.
Notes About Review Sites and Blogs:
In your research, you’ll find numerous styles of product review sites and blogs. Sadly, the majority of these are really “promotional sites” masquerading as review sites.
A true review site is going to share the good, bad and ugly about any particular product.
A “promotional site” is merely going to highlight the good side of a product, in an effort to get viewers to buy an earn the site owner a commission.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. But as a student of copywriting, you need to know what you’re dealing with when you check these sites and blogs out.
“Promo sites” will tend to employ some really great sales copy. All benefits, pumped up, super positive everything.
“Review sites” will tend to be written more naturally, actually downplaying some products and leaving some readers on the fence.
In the short term, “promo sites” will convert better for their owners. But in the long term, once a reputation is built, legitimate “review sites” will yield their creators much better results because honest opinions develop trust in an audience.
You don’t need a master’s degree in copywriting to make a SERIOUSLY POSITIVE impact on your conversions.
Whether you’re an email marketer, product creator making sales letters, or product reviewer with your own site, effective copywriting skills ARE within your reach.
It just takes a bit of time, but more importantly: PRACTICE. The above article breaks down EXACTLY what you need to do to build these skills, and from experience I can tell you this: there’s not a more cost effective way to boost YOUR BOTTOM LINE than by increasing your conversion rate.